It is often said that leaders are not born, they are made. It’s cliché, but it’s true. Just as Rome wasn’t built in a day, Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos did not develop their companies overnight. Becoming someone like Bill Gates or Steve Jobs takes passion, promise, and persistence. Above all, it takes the essence of a leader. Even if leadership manifests itself in many distinct forms across various disciplines, one thing is certain: No matter what their focus or field may be in, the most respected leaders have these 6 key traits.
Anyone can have a big idea. What distinguishes those who achieve their goals from those who do not is simply self-assurance. In order to execute your idea, you must be confident in their vision. This self-assurance should remain, even if your idea is turned down more times than you can count. The best leaders are resilient, and see failure as a step on the pathway to success.
This is perhaps the easiest leadership trait to overlook or take for granted, but it can also be one of the easiest to develop. Fostering empathy in the workplace creates a company culture rooted in understanding and mutual respect. Effective leaders seek to empower. Having followers is not necessarily a desire they may have, but rather, a byproduct that emerges through the cultivation of empathy, action, and resolve. The most respected leaders are empathetic because they themselves have looked failure in the eyes and met disappointment. They can step in your shoes because they’ve been in your shoes, and through that experience, they can motivate.
Becoming a respected leader is not always easy. It takes hard work and immense effort, often garnering little to no results, at least initially, for an extended period of time. Eventually, however, as most great leaders would agree, the hard work pays off. Leaders do not simply tell their followers what to do. They do not inspire by simply talking; rather, great leaders inspire through action, serving as role models, not just bosses. They are steadfast and assiduous.
Even if you are incredibly gifted at what you do, there is always room to be better. The most extraordinary leaders are aware of this, recognizing their own room to grow, and aspiring to always be better. They do not settle, even if they are already the best. Just as the newest and most advanced version of a car or a phone may already be the best, there are still improvements that can be made. The most respected leaders know this, and they do their best to admit their own shortcomings and mistakes. They do not seek to ever stop learning or ever stop growing in their leadership.
Procrastination can affect all of us, even leaders. Whether it’s a deadline you are struggling to meet or a project you are too unmotivated to even start, we can all fall victim to the seemingly irresistible desire to do nothing. The most respected leaders, however, push through these phases of demotivation. They are accountable and self-motivated. They start a project and they see it through, understanding that, “commitment is doing the thing you said you would do, long after the mood you said it in has left you.” (Darren Hardy)
Above all else, the most respected leaders are passionate. Passion matters because if all else fails, passion is the foundation that one can always fall back on. It is where great ideas begin. It is what drives one to execute those ideas. It is what fuels success. The most respected leaders are unwavering in their tenacity, accomplishing their goals ultimately through fervor and resolve.
Leadership is not as cut and dry as it may appear to be. It is developed through a combination of traits and experiences, but it is also something that every person has the capacity to achieve. Attaining the promise of a respected leader takes hard work, but the DNA of extraordinary leaders can manifest itself in people from all walks of life.
By Fernando Ortiz-Barbachano
CEO & Founder of Barbachano International (BIP), the Human Capital Solutions leader in Mexico, Latin America, and the USA offering high impact executive search, executive coaching, and outplacement.
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